Directors work hard for the finished movies you see in theaters and sometimes can go a little crazy trying to get them there. They’ll push their actors and their crew to the limits in order to get the best final product they think they can get all for the sake of us: their audience. Click through to see the full list of the helmers that went the extra mile for the sake of their craft.
Steven Spielberg and Saving Private Ryan
In order to get the actors more in the mindset of Army infantrymen storming the beach at Omaha, Spielberg had Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi, and Tom Hanks go through ten days of boot camp supplied only with the equipment a soldier during World War II would have been equipped with.
To foster the sense of contempt for Private Ryan, played by Matt Damon, that was needed for the characters, Damon was purposefully left out of the training.
F. Gary Gray and Straight Outta Compton
Director Gray was working with relatively young actors to evoke the gravity of the legendary members of NWA, and to get that across in the final movie, some serious preparation had to be done.
Gray insisted that his depiction of the rap group be as honest as possible, so he put his actors through a preparation process that included teaching Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) how to produce and DJ, rerecording NWA’s entire debut album Straight Outta Compton themselves, and performing in front of a live audience.
Stanley Kubrick and the Shining
One of the most iconic thrillers from an equally iconic director, the Shining is twisted and spooky, and Kubrick pushed his actors hard to achieve the kind of emotional climaxes that made the movie so chilling.
He gave Shelley Duvall the hardest time, reportedly putting her through over a hundred takes that required huge emotional output, even telling the crew to avoid showing her any compassion.
The experience was so stressful, Duvall’s hair started falling out, but in the end, Kubrick got the drained, defeated, and hysterical performance that the role required.
Werner Herzog and Fitzcarraldo
If you’ve never seen this film, I highly encourage you to check it out, as it features one of the great historical film partnerships between Herzog and Klaus Kinski, who played the title character. It involves Fitzcarraldo’s misguided efforts to bring an opera house to Peru in South America by getting into the rubber trade.
Part of these efforts requires him to organize the indigenous peoples to help him move an entire steamboat across a strip of land to a different river, which Werner Herzog actually accomplished. The stunt used no effects and required the use of 3 separate ships that weighed over 320 tons!
To make things even more realistically despairing for his star, Herzog encouraged the irritation the native extras had with Kinski, helping to bring out unrest on screen that Kinski’s character evoked from those he was exploiting.
Quentin Tarantino and Inglorious Bastards
Tarantino is unquestionably a perfectionist director and a film diehard, and Inglorious Basterds showed nothing less than that. The theater demolition scene had a real blaze going and ended up burning hotter than expected, causing steel ropes to melt and Eli Roth to fear for his life.
He also felt like movie strangulations didn’t really get it right (who doesn’t, right??…), so to get the perfect expressions out of actress Diane Kruger, he took it upon himself to simulate the strangling as one take to help the authenticity.
Richard Linklater and Boyhood
This coming-of-age story showed some serious dedication from Linklater to complete the project, which spanned the actual 12 years across the actors’ lives. It says a lot about a director who can maintain focus for that long and retain actors that will put in the time and effort to go along the ride with him.
With 6 Oscar nominations, 1 of those a win for Best Supporting Actress, along with 3 Golden Globe wins, the efforts did not go unrecognized.
Buster Keaton and Three Ages
A god of the silent era, Buster Keaton’s technical acting ability meshed well with the perfectionism of his directing. In this 18 minute film where he plays a caveman trying to win the hand of a cave-lady, there’s a scene where a caveman throws a stone at Keaton and he bats it back into the chest of the assaulting neanderthal. Keaton wanted this to feel authentic and insisted on shooting the entire day, taking 10 hours of filming to get this 3 second joke the way he wanted it.
You can see the scene below around 15:34, or just watch the whole thing!
It’s an impressive feat to make a movie, and these certainly aren’t the only directors that have gone to the brink to finish their work. If you know some more, comment below and let us know!